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As noted yesterday, Orlando Hudson became the first Diamondback since 2000 to win a Gold Glove, taking the NL award for second-base to follow up the AL award he won with Toronto in 2005. Congratulations to him, and there's no doubt that with Snyder, Drew, O-Dawg and Young up the middle, things look pretty bright in the defensive area for the Diamondbacks in 2007. I strongly suspect that it won't be six more years before Rawlings needs to make another delivery to Chase Field. [The corner infield and outfield, however, were not positions of strength - replacing Gonzo and Green with Byrnes and Quentin respectively next year, is certainly a start. Let's just hope Hudson and Quentin don't ever collide going for the same ball.]

I must admit, this one does come as something of a surprise, particularly as Hudson was definitely not as advertised on his initial arrival in Arizona. While early on, we were wondering how the hell this guy won in Toronto, there's no denying Orlando's play improved greatly over the course of the year, and he admits to struggling early. Part of this might have been the adjustment from an artificial surface to grass, as well as adapting to the different style of play in the National League. But there was no questioning his range; second-base became a place where bloops went to die, Hudson sucking everything up in his vicinity like a meth-crazed black hole. Believe me, I toned that metaphor down several notches from the draft version! :-)

Still, he sees room for improvement in 2007, saying of his 13 errors, "I hope to cut that down by eight to 10 next year. I can think of 10 of those 13 right now that were just a lack of concentration. The ball would go into my glove and I got kind of lackadaisical." I tend to agree; from what I recall, most of the errors were on simple plays, lobbing the ball over the head of the first-baseman or whatever. If he can reduce those, it will be a big help; there's no real reason why not, and I hope that he and Drew will become one of the league's top double-play combos next year.

It is certainly a novel feeling to have a Gold Glover on the team: the last time that happened, I was a single guy living in London, and some guy called Geraldo Guzman started ten games for your Arizona Diamondbacks. We've been cursed with some real clunkers at various positions since then; while poor defense probably hasn't cost us that many games directly, I think there is a psychological impact of errors and botched plays that goes beyond the immediate impact in the scorebook. The pitcher, in particular, after executing his job and inducing a ground-ball, say, must find it heart-rending to see the ball booted or thrown away. He could certainly be forgiven if the next pitch came with a side-order of "What's the frickin' point?"

Interesting, if slightly disturbing, piece in the Tribune this morning, which says the Diamondbacks "were among a number of teams...that contacted Mulder's agent, Gregg Clifton, on Friday, a day after Mulder filed for free agency." This goes against Josh Byrnes' publicly-expressed opinion that we would not be going after any big-name free agents, though it is true to say that after Mulder's disappointing, injury-plagued season, it's likely he'll get a short, incentive-heavy contract until he's proven he has returned to form. This has happened before: the article points out that both Chris Carpenter and John Lieber signed short-term deals after coming back from injury.

I can't see this panning out. I think it was more a vague tentacle of interest, hoping the fact Mulder has a house in Arizona - like half of the major-league, it seems - would give us a leg-up. And, at the right price, it might be worth a risk; see Frank Thomas in Oakland, who turned out to be a total steal for the A's last off-season. But I suspect there'll be some team out there that's brave/stupid enough (something visible only in hindsight, depending on how the contract pans out; I predict the latter) to take a longer-term flyer on Mulder.

The Luis "There's no bitterness" Gonzalez watch continues, with the same article mentioning the Indians have thrown their hat into the ring for his services. It says nine teams are interested, but mentions only six: as well as Cleveland, the others listed are Baltimore, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Texas and St. Louis, though I imagine San Diego and Detroit are probably also candidates. Loved the snarky little comment from his agent, Gregg Clifton, "It was nice to have a team that values his veteran status." Ooh, get back in the knife-box, Mr. Sharp...

Dire news from the mlb.com chat with President Hall and new play-by-play guy Daron Sutton:

puroprimetime: Will there be a change to Baxter?
Hall: Absolutely not. Although we no longer play at BOB, Baxter stays. He is a mainstay and children expect to see him. What most fans don't see is his involvement in the community. This morning he joined me while we visited a school for disabled children. He was wonderful with them and put smiles on all of their faces. I wish fans could see the impact he has on children during hospital and school visits. He is D-Baxter.

Yes, exactly. That's the problem. He is D-Baxter. I'm sure the guy inside the suit is great, but I suspect that the school for disabled children would have been equally impressed by a man dressed as an over-sized sea-slug. My stays in hospital as a kid were blessedly limited, but were also so boring, I would have been deeply ecstatic to receive a visit from a barrel of pond-scum. However, by all means, send Baxter off to do school visits, or anything else that keeps him away from Chase Field. I think I speak for most fans when I say, the only thing better than Baxter spending all his time at hospitals, would be Baxter spending all his time in hospital...

Taking that concept through to its ultimate, if grim conclusions, seems the Diamondbacks are missing a valuable opportunity to teach children a valuable life-lesson here about death and rebirth here. Better they learn about such things through a furry mascot than when Fluffy or Rover shuffle off to the litter-box in the sky. Can you imagine the turnout for Baxter Funeral Night at Chase Field? I'd go. Hell, I'd probably end up chartering a bus...